Alarming level of PPC arrears may rise to 2.5bn euros, ND official warns

Main power utility PPC’s alarming level of unpaid overdue electricity bills owed by consumers could be set to rise further, to as much as 2.5 billion euros, the main opposition conservative New Democracy party’s official in charge of energy matters has warned.

The ND party official, Kostas Skrekas, in a related written question submitted to Parliament, states that provisions for bad debts during the first nine-month period of 2015 increased by 407.7 million euros compared to the equivalent period a year earlier, which represents a 210 percent increase.

Skrekas, whose question was signed by 26 MPs and was critical of the Syriza-led coalition’s policies implemented over the past year or so, also forecasts that the level of unpaid overdue electricity bills owed by consumers for 2015 will range between 2.3 billion euros and 2.5 billion euros, up by as much as 700 million euros compared to 2014.

Campaigning by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and other members of the Syriza and Independent Greeks parties – while they were still in opposition – urging citizens to not pay bills, has now created tragic financial problems for the country’s main power utility, Skrekas notes.

Consequences, according to Skrekas, include the inability by local authorities to reduce the Public Service Compensation (YKO) surcharge imposed on electricity bills – household and professional – by at least 300 million euros, annually, despite the significant drop in oil and natural gas prices, as PPC’s administration has admitted.

Other effects included a freeze on PPC’s facility upgrade investments, which would reduce emissions and production costs for the utility; a possible increase of the utility’s borrowing costs, detrimental for its level of competitiveness; as well as a dramatic drop in the corporate worth of PPC, one of the Greek state’s most prized assets, the ND party’s chief energy official contends.

In the statement, Skrekas poses a long list of questions, including how the government intends to ease the power utility’s level of unpaid overdue electricity bills; boost the corporation’s market worth; support households that have sunk into poverty over the past thirteen months of Syrize-led rule; soften Public Service Compensation amounts burdening households and professionals; and create robust,  transparent competition in local electricity production and supply, which, he notes, will bolster energy security and lower energy costs for citizens.

Skrekas also questions how PPC will implement its investment plan to ensure a firm level of competitiveness and long-term sustainability.